Breeders’ Cup: Champagne sparkles in Juvenile Fillies

Champagne Room: holds the challenge of Valadorna to win

PICTURE: Edward Whitaker ( Shock as Champagne sparkles in Cup opener By David Carr 7:03PM 5 NOV 2016

Report: Santa Anita, Saturday

14 Hands Winery Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (Grade 1) 1m½f, dirt, 2yo fillies,

RACING's greatest night started with a shock at Santa Anita as Champagne Room sprang a surprise in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Champagne Room had finished behind two of her rivals when only fourth in the Chandelier Stakes over this course and distance last month.

But the 34-1 shot was always well placed under Mario Gutierrez, hit the front at the top of the straight and held off Valadorna by three-quarters of a length in the closing stages.

Favourite American Gal, who was drawn widest of all, finished third, another three and a quarter lengths back.

Jockey joy

Gutierrez was riding his second Breeders' Cup winner, having landed the Juvenile on Nyquist at Keeneland last year, while trainer Peter Eurton was scoring his first success at the meeting.

The jockey said: "She broke aggressively from the gate but I know her well so when I asked her to relax she co-operated. I sat behind Bob Baffert's horse [Noted And Quoted] and had a good trip.

"It makes me so happy. I've been working hard and to be able to ride for trainers like Peter Eurton means a lot to me. I can't say how happy I am.

"I always believed that she was able to got two turns and she demonstrated that today."

Eurton added: "I wasn't feeling utterly confident (coming down the stretch). She was actually moving pretty well. She was getting a little tired, but there wasn't anyone catching her. I'm feeling pretty good right now. This means an awful lot to me.”

The Juvenile Fillies has been a good race for outsiders of late, with Ria Antonia scoring at 40-1 in 2013 and 66-1 chance Take Charge Brandi collecting two years ago.


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Drefong: battles bravely to win the Breeders' Cup Sprint

PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (

Also at Santa Anita

Twinspires Breeders' Cup Sprint (Grade 1) 6f, dirt, 3yo+

BOB BAFFERT landed the Breeders' Cup Sprint for the fourth time in nine years and the fifth time overall, despite missing his main hope.

He had to scratch Lord Nelson from the race earlier in the week but his Drefong proved well up to the job.

The three-year-old raced up with a strong pace from the off but got the better of front-running Masochistic in the straight scored by a length and a quarter.

Baffert, winning his 13th Breeders' Cup race, said: "I knew he couldn't have been any better and was peaking but we didn't know quite how fast he was.

"What a fight that was down the stretch! Turning in I thought we would be second but at the eighth-pole I could see we were digging in.

"He's a great sprinter and a beautiful horse."


Classic Empire (yellow) keeps on dourly to beat Not This Time

PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (

Report: Santa Anita, Saturday

Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile (Grade 1) 1m½f, dirt, 2yo colts and geldings

CLASSIC EMPIRE repelled the determined late challenge of Not This Time to register victory by a neck and surge to the head of the Kentucky Derby betting, earning a quote of 10-1 favourite with Coral.

Classic Empire hails from the same stable as Tepin and trainer Mark Casse looks to have another star on his hands.

Ridden by Julien Leparoux, Classic Empire was always prominent and took the measure of the front-running Syndergaard as the field swung for home.

Not This Time came out of the pack to throw down the sternest challenge but could not quite overhaul Classic Empire as the pair drew well clear of the remainder of the field in the style of high-class colts.

Practical Joke was a distant third, seven and a half lengths behind the principals.

Rider reaction

Leparoux said: "I was very confident when he broke well and he put me in the race.

"The blinkers help him a lot and he is a nice horse to look forward to as a three-year-old. I am excited for the future."

By Pioneer Of The Nile – the same sire as American Pharoah – Classic Empire has now won three of his four starts, the one defeat coming when he unshipped his rider at the start of the Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga.

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